Books: December Edition

Several sick days during finals week (when the library was busy with students, but slower for me not having to provide any instruction) afforded me lots of glorious time to stay at home to rest, drink tea, and read, read, read! And then, with the semester ending and visiting family over Christmas, I had even more time to read! And somehow, I forgot to post this before 2017 rolled around…so here is my December reading recap!

good-behavior-175

Good Behavior by Blake Crouch
Oh how I love anything by Blake Crouch! The Pines trilogy was so engrossing and Dark Matter was my favorite book read in 2016 (twice). Now, after finishing Good Behavior, I realize why I enjoy Crouch’s books so much: he writes descriptively and draws the reader in, which helps vividly envision scenarios and characters’ mannerisms, allowing the stories to mentally come to life and remain with you long after the last page is turned.

Comprised of three novellas stories, “The Pain of Others,” “Sunset Key,” and “Grab,” we meet Letty Dobesh, a seasoned criminal who is smart but her past choices and addictions haunt her life post-prison and influence the decisions she currently faces. The stories each stand alone, so there really isn’t a cohesive flow between the three. Yet, after each short story/novella, Crouch provides additional commentary about the story, its creation, and/or how it was adapted for TV; a neat, insider’s glance behind the scenes, allowing the reader to understand this slightly disjointed structure.

While I haven’t seen the TNT series, I’m curious about it simply because Michelle Dockery, Lady Mary from Downton Abbey, plays Letty. Talk about an actress not wanting to be typecast and playing a diverse range of characters!

My thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC!

greenglasshouse

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

I saw this listed as a Kindle daily deal in early December, and as I always do, first looked to see if my library had this in the youth collection, which we did (which means I probably ordered it…)! Free beats a Kindle deal any day!

This is an inviting story, perfect for cold, snowy weather, drinking hot chocolate nestled near the Christmas tree, and escaping into a world where two children are solving ongoing thefts and mysteries in a unique, snow-bound inn. Although this is a children’s book, the reading level is advanced (upper elementary for sure) and the plot requires some attention to remember different characters, various names, and details about the mysteries that unfold.

9781595145512.jpg

What Light by Jay Asher

I received a three-chapter preview of this Young Adult novel from NetGalley, and it propelled me to request it from our public library. Jay Asher is best known for his book Th1rteen R3asons Why, which has become a well known, go-to YA story about the tragic impact of bullying.

In comparison, this Christmas story is much more positive and sweet. Sierra’s family owns a Christmas tree farm and each year they travel from Oregon to California to sell their trees, so she has two lives and two sets of friends divided around the holidays. This year, however, she meets a cute boy whose past is shrouded in speculation and rumor, and she must decide whether to accept him as he is, or be fearful of his past. This YA novel includes positive messages of acceptance, fresh starts, and openness towards the future.

submerged

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

While I’m pretty familiar with Inspirational Fiction authors, Dani Pettrey had never been on my radar until seeing one of her books as a Kindle daily deal. Again, I opted for checking my public library first to see if any of her books (especially starting with Book 1 of a series) were available. Thankfully, several were, including Submerged, the first in her Alaskan Courage series.

Although I’ve never been to Alaska, I was easily whisked away to the small, fictitious, coastal town of Yancey where Cole McKenna and his adventurous siblings work together with a friend from years past to uncover the motives surrounding a series of interconnected murders. This Christian fiction story includes themes of forgiveness, letting go of the past, the bonds of family, and an assurance in God’s faithfulness.

shattered
Shattered
by Dani Pettrey

After devouring Submerged I grabbed Shattered, the second book in the Alaskan Courage series, at my public library and enjoyed it equally as much as I did the first! The McKenna siblings return once more, with sister Piper and family friend Landon being featured as the main characters in this installment, as they collectively work to prove the true identity of someone who has killed their brother’s friend.  Themes in Shattered include dependence on God, being open to love, truth prevailing, and loyalty among family members.

I’ve also realized my favorite books are written with a strong sense of place, which allows me to fully immerse myself in the writer’s world, and this series definitely whisks me away to an inviting, fictitious place!

baxterchristmas

A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury

I began reading stories surrounding the Baxter family in 2008 and have read every.single.one.of.them (this is the 24th) over the years – wow!  This is definitely the longest series I’ve read and endeavored to keep up with, but the characters leave imprints on your heart and it’s always cozy to return to beloved friends found between the pages.

However, Kingsbury shares a brief backstory about all the characters in the preface, so you can be completely new to the Baxter family and still enjoy this sweet story of love, honesty, forgiveness, family relationships, and the birth of Jesus at Christmastime.

My thanks to Edelweiss for the digital ARC!

 

Advertisements

2016 Favorites & 2017 Projections

Favorite Reading:

Click on the links below for a more detailed review from when I read these throughout the past year.

DarkMatter
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

capture
How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

coldtangerines
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist 

ReadyPlayerOne
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Total books read: 56

Favorite Knitting:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Title & Pattern: French Cancan
Recipient: me!
Yarn: Araucania Huasco DK: Grass
Needles: US 7

Green complements our University’s main color and the cabled border is a show-stopper!

coffeebeans
Title & Pattern: Little Coffee Bean Cardigan
Recipeint: Elias
Size: 6 month
Yarns: Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash: White, Malabrigo Yarn Rios: Glitter
Needles: US 7 & US 8

Such a pleasing and quick knit, which was so appreciated by my friend, the mother of the baby!

Total knits: 46 items

Hats: 12     Baby booties: 9 pair     Socks: 4      Dish cloths: 3     Various household items: 3 Adult afghans: 2     Mittens: 2      Fingerless mittens: 2     Coffee Cozies: 2     Cowls: 1         Shawls: 2     Baby sweaters: 1       Baby blankets: 1     Princess Crown: 1     Other toys: 1

2017 Ponderances:

  • When recently reading this Modern Mrs. Darcy blog post, I began pondering what it would look like for me to think on purpose this coming year. Rather than have my mind flit from topic to topic, a more diligent approach to my conscious thoughts will allow me to think more deeply, practice more logical reasoning, and perhaps see different angles to a given situation.
  • Practicing the art of hygge –  a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the word is said to have no direct translation in English, though “cozy” comes close. From The New Yorker.
  • Finally knit a sweater! If I can knit a baby sweater, I know my skills allow me to be capable of knitting an adult size sweater. I’m pondering several patterns on Ravelry, so the goal is finding the right one and pairing it with the right yarn…
  • All the while remembering less is more. When I was in grad school and made peanuts for a salary, I was completely content to not buy new clothing, books, yarn, or other creature comforts very often at all. Somehow over the past few years this mindset has shifted, especially when I have seen so many beautiful yarns, striking patterns, or engaging descriptions of books, it makes me feel like I need to buy/read/make the same thing. I want to remember I can still buy/read/make these things, but more in moderation (quality vs. quantity) and to think on purpose if I will really enjoy it in the long run, and if not – to vicariously enjoy other people’s photos, descriptions, and creations.
  • Possibly re-read the Bible (If so, this will be my 4th re-read). I found the process of reading through the Bible this year (ESV) was greatly assisted by the narration feature on my Bible app, which would be again be used if I endeavor to make this spiritual journey again.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13b-14 (ESV)

 

Books: August Edition

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_Cover

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

What a treat to return to the world of Harry Potter! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up where The Deathly Hallows (book 7) left off with exciting themes of past regret influencing the present. The reader is also introduced to some new, memorable characters who synchronously fit in with those found in the original canon.

Normally, my imagination creates a vivid world, characters, and scenery for a story, but reading this was a bit trickier this time. I harkened back to my fond mental images from the original books, famous depictions from the movies, plus incorporated the stage directions as I imagined how this would be acted out live in a theatre. Yet after reading a couple of scenes, I began to slip into the flow of the play, everything merged in my brain, and the story swept me away.

trashed

Trashed by Derf Backderf

I heard about this book through a librarian newsletter/e-mail and thought it sounded fascinating: a graphic novel about garbage. It’s semi-autobiographical, based on Backderf’s previous experience as a garbage man, and sheds light on a subject many people don’t want to think about. Yet, my takeaway has been to be more mindful of what I throw into the trashcan and be more diligent about my recycling efforts. Every little bit matters!

DarkMatter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I raved about this book when I read it in May from a digital ARC , and was thrilled to choose it for my August Book of the Month pick in hardback! As soon as it arrived I asked The Optometrist, “Would you like for me to read this aloud to you?” With his fascination of and ease in understanding sci-fi themes, I had a feeling he would enjoy the plot, pacing, and scientific concepts, and I was anxious to re-read it.

As I shared before, this novel addresses quantum physics, is filled with suspense and hope, and the overarching theme of the book centers around fighting for love and being at peace with the decisions we make. The second go around was just as enjoyable, if not more so since I was able to share and discuss it with my love, and remains my favorite book read in 2016 (at least so far).

FireInBeulah

Fire in Beulah by Rilla Askew

Recently our university chose this as our inaugural Freshman Common Read, and since I’m teaching a small group of freshmen, it’s imperative I read the book they are required to read. Fire in Beulah is a historically fictitious account of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, of which I knew nothing previously.

Askew doesn’t hold back as she interweaves stories of Oklahomans (white, black, and Indian) and their prejudices, in a gritty, raw, gut-wrenching, and violent way. (Overall, “gloom, despair, and agony on me.”) It’s been years since I’ve read anything this emotionally difficult, the last being Push by Sapphire.

The author is somewhat of a local, whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting on a few occasions, and had previously read another of her novels, Kind of Kin, which addresses the current state of immigration in the United States. I found it impactful, but interlaced with humor. In comparison, and in my opinion, Fire in Beulah is definitely not for the faint of heart. Yet it has made me more curious to find out more historical facts about this tragic conflict in our state’s and nation’s history. Plus it’s good to remember that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

If you’re interested in learning more, this segment from 60 Minutes provides interviews and background information about”Tulsa burning.”

(And looking ahead to September, I’ve recently begun Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson and One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood.)